Reassembling Beijing’s past

Nick Myall
Friday 23 Sep 2016

Draftarch have given an area of Beijing back to the local community creating a new gathering point for residents of all different ages and backgrounds

The historical Dongguan Guild house in Beijing, China was built approximately 120 years ago outside the ancient city walls in the Xuanxi North district, and was a gathering point for the people from the city of Dongguan travelling to Beijing. 

Today, after decades of changes and demolitions, it’s part of the Historical Appearance Coordination Area in the downtown area of Beijing. To approach the project it was necessary to develop a strategy based on two parallel analyses: Firstly the heritage survey and evaluation, to allow the architects to trace the evolution of the site, and distinguish the elements with historical value from those without. Next the social and urban survey, to understand the needs and the expectations of today’s local residents and to trace the main characteristics of this part of the city.

Starting from the information collected, Draftarch, who found this project though the WAN Business Information service, decided to give the area back to the community to create a new gathering point for the residents from different ages and backgrounds. In this way the new functions are mainly public, ranging from a co-working to a public library for adults and children. Therefore the site, physically semi open according to the original courtyard typology, becomes functionally fully open to the local residents. The project is characterized by two scales of perception: the urban scale and the architectural one. For the first one the new buildings appear completely integrated with their surroundings, respecting height and the proportion of the historical fabric; on the contrary, at the architecture scale, it’s easy to distinguish clearly the new additions from the historical buildings, using a contemporary language to under-line the architects deep respect for the irreversibility of the past. Every new element or building proposed in the project has a specific reason, evidence and proof which can be found in the original spatial idea of the Guild House, defining a new dialogue between past and present. This project was the winner of the International Competition Beijing Xuanxi North Area regeneration.

WAN Business Information team published this competition 12 April 2016. View details of the original project lead here. To keep updated with latest project leads from WAN's Business Information Service, please contact Katerina Hojgrova or click here to start your free trial.

Nick Myall

News editor

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